New Documentary I Am What’s Underneath Hits Kickstarter to Raise $100,000 & Encourage Others to Accept Themselves

I Am What’s Underneath 4

Seeking to encourage others to accept and express their true selves by ditching the “social norm,” mother-daughter team, Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum, have launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000 for their new film, I Am What’s Underneath. 

I Am What’s Underneath 5I Am What’s Underneath is a feature-length documentary that strips people down to open themselves up. The film itself will take the viewers with the filming team on their journey across the world and will share powerful stories they uncover along the way. While discussing the key story behind the film, Mandelbaum explained. “I was a curvy 19-year-old, struggling to love my body in a culture without any images of women who looked like me. I was convinced that in order to have style, I needed to starve myself, slip into a pair of skinny jeans, and tote around the latest ‘it’ bag. This empty ideal of beauty tortured my adolescence.”

Goodkind noted, “At the same time, I was working as a fashion stylist. After years in the business, I felt stuck. The industry, which was once devoted to artistry, had become about selling status, conformity, and one, exclusive ideal of beauty. I eventually realized that those same photoshopped magazine covers that I was styling were also harming my daughter’s self-esteem.”

The duo stated, “In 2009, we picked up a home video camera and began to document real people with original personal style. We interviewed people of all ages, body types, races, and genders, all of whom were being submerged in a sea of cookie-cutter beauty norms. After producing thousands of raw, honest docu-style videos, we’ve harnessed a new wave of fashion where style is not about celebrity status, trends, or airbrushed photographs. Style is self-expression, self-acceptance, and at the core of every person’s identity.”

I Am What’s Underneath 1Sharing details about filming the documentary, the team revealed, “What began to come out of our interviews was powerful vulnerability and honest personal storytelling that revealed the depths of marketing effects on our human experience. Our poured story after story about poor self-image: eating disorders, pill addictions, depression, as well as gender, age and racial identity crises. In addition, many had faced misguided assumptions towards them based on looks – bullying and marginalization’s for everything from what they were wearing to the texture of their natural hair. How absurd is that?

“What we began to realize was that each person, like us, had felt that they were lacking something that kept them from feeling beautiful and whole. Some of our subjects had already liberated themselves from the scars of this cultural conditioning, while others were in the process. But what was so moving to us was to see What’s Underneath become a stage for catharsis – a stepping stone towards self-acceptance. And true self-acceptance is not about looking like some made-up ideal of perfection. It is about the bravery to be in this world, exactly as you are, and not in the image of others. That is what gives a person style. That’s what makes a person beautiful.”

I Am What’s Underneath 5During their adventure, the film team will be creating satellite ambassador programs in which the What’s Underneath “format” will be introduced to communities and individuals that can facilitate the experience themselves. They want to give viewers the tools to take this movement to places they couldn’t have reached on their own. They noted, “While traveling to at least 5 cities around the world, we will also film at least 30 What’s Underneath episodes for you to view at”

These cities will be selected based on the following:

  • Backers: Where the documentary receives the most backers
  • Submissions: Where the documentary received the most submissions to date
  • Diversity: The documentary’s team wants to represent a wide range of cultural perspectives in the film, so they will make their selection based on this as well.

The goal is to get the film shot early in 2015, edit late next year, and release in the spring of 2016.

Since its debut on Thursday (November 20th), the project has already received $61,307 from 678 backers. It is set to close on December 20th.


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